Villegas Wins Canadian Skins Game

By Associated PressJune 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
VERNON, British Columbia -- With a couple of hundred of thousand dollars on the line, Camilo Villegas felt some nerves at his first Skins Game.
 
Coming off a top-10 finish at the U.S. Open, Villegas made more than $200,000 on Tuesday to win the two-day World Skins Game.
 
Villegas made a 4-foot birdie putt on the par-5 14th hole for $127,800, then added another $97,800 in a playoff.
 
I actually was (nervous) with that short putt on the par 5, but it was good, said Villegas, whose tie for ninth at Torrey Pines was his best finish in a major. Its good to feel the nerves, a little shaking, and why not? Just test yourself.
 
Villegas forced the closest-to-the pin playoff for the final four skins by matching Mike Weirs 10-foot birdie on the 18th hole.
 
I thought maybe he might do me a favor being Canadian, joked Weir, who was shut out in his first Skins Game in his home country in seven years.
 
After walking 130 yards back into the fairway, Villegas pitching wedge over water settled 20 feet past the pin. Fred Couples and Australias Greg Norman were both closer, but their shots finished on the fringe just short of the green and didnt count. So when Colin Montgomeries ball stopped a foot past Villegas, and Weir came up short of the green, Villegas had the title and over $226,000.
 
I was actually nearest to the pin, so I won really, said a laughing Norman, who instead had settled for second spot after winning $97,800 on the first day.
 
Couples, nicknamed King of Skins, was third after adding $29,340 Monday to career skins earnings over $5 million. Scotlands Colin Montgomerie was also shut out for a second-straight year at the internationally flavored event.
 
I was a little surprised I didnt get a skin, but I made a few birdies after not making any yesterday, Weir said. Its timing, you have to make them at the right time.
 
After combining for just one birdie in the first six holes the first day, the five golfers had eight through the first three holes on Tuesday. They did not, however, produce an outright winner until the fifth hole, a 540-yard par 5 that Villegas and Weir reached in two shots.
 
Weir left his first putt short and couldnt make his 12-foot par putt, allowing Villegas to two putt for six skins, including one carried over from the ninth hole Monday.
 
After grinding it out at Torrey Pines last week, the 26-year-old Colombian enjoyed the loose atmosphere and the company of a five-some with four major championships between them.
 
It was a little more relaxing, I can tell you that, said Villegas, who flew up late Sunday night to Predator Ridge, almost 300 miles northeast of Vancouver. Just look at those guys: Greg Norman, Mike Weir, Colin, Freddie Couples. Im just a kid out here, trying to get better and better every day, and its just fun to come out here and play good.
 
The playful banter between players also picked up from the first day, with Norman taking the microphone to correct his introduction as a former World No. 1 for 331 days.
 
It was 331 weeks, said the two-time British Open winner.
 
Montgomerie, a close second to Weir as the fan favorite after leading much of the jokes the first day, didnt miss a beat.
 
I was No. 2 for a month, Montgomerie said as he stepped up to the first tee, and then Tiger (Woods) was born.
 
Montgomerie wasnt available to the media as he rushed to a flight, but Couples was sticking around to unveil his latest course co-design, The Rise, nearby on Wednesday.
 
The event, sponsored by Telus, raised $250,000 for B.C. Childrens Hospital. That included $40,000 for 20 total birdies, and $3,000 for Normans lone eagle on Monday, which got him the first-day lead and a hug from fiance Chris Evert, the former tennis great who walked the course both days.
 
Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand

By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.

Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda made eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record for the event.

''That was a pretty good round, pretty special,'' she said. ''Just had a lot of fun doing it.''


Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda. She leads from another American, Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course.

Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.

Korda is making her season debut in Thailand after the surgery and is playing with 27 screws holding her jaw in place.

She seized the outright lead with a birdie on No. 15, the third of four straight birdies she made on the back nine. Her eagle on the last meant she finished with a 29 on the back nine, putting her in prime position for a first tour win since 2015.

''The best part is I have had no headache for 11 weeks. So that's the biggest win for me,'' she said. ''Honestly I was just trying to get on the green, get myself a chance. I birdied four in a row and holed a long one (on 18). I wasn't expecting it at all. It was pretty cool.''

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Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.


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Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

Later, he laughed about the moment.

''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

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Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

“They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.

“Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”


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Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

“As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

“Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.